We are very proud to introduce our first ever set U free scholarship.
Meet Lou*, the winner of our first ever set U free scholarship. Lou is literally fighting to save her life, as she faces revolutionary heart surgery in December 2016. Read on to find out more about her amazing journey so far, and the challenges she faces in the coming months, we guarantee you will feel inspired!
In fact, we have been so inspired by Lou’s amazing strength, courage, determination and passion that we have awarded her the first ever set U free scholarship to support her every step of her amazing journey. Lou will get free 1-2-1 personal training, and weight loss coaching support, all the way up until her surgery. You can follow her amazing journey through her blog Whole Hearted Rants which we will share through our page- so be sure to subscribe for updates!
Lou’s journey so far
Lou has an atrial septal defect, (ASD) or as its more commonly known; a hole in the heart. She has had it since birth, and struggled with breathlessness, and generally feeling ‘unfit’ most of her life, but despite many doctors trips and tests her condition wasn’t discovered until her late 30s. By this time Lou’s heart was weakened, and surgery was critical. That was back in 2011, and Lou was told she must lose weight, as her BMI was too high, and it would make the surgery too risky.
However, after a lifetime of crash dieting, Lou was at a wits end. She knew she had to lose weight to have the best chance of surviving, but she was worried that any attempt at ‘dieting’ would trigger previous negative food behaviors. For a long time Lou had been disconnected from her body, using her fat as a shield to protect herself, the thought of being forced to lose weight was scary.
Then in 2012 Lou faced another blow, as her health took another turn for the worse. She was diagnosed with Adenomyomas (tumors in the uterus) but she struggled to find a surgeon who would operate due to her heart condition. In that time she became so ill she was left bed ridden and heavily medicated. In the end the only option was a radical hysterectomy.
The surgery set Lou on the long road to recovery, but she was still unable to work. The extra free time forced her to assess her life and what she wanted to get out of it. She decided to retrain as a lawyer so she could fight for social justice, and started working part time at her church.
Not giving in
Once back on her feet, Lou was ready to tackle her need to lose weight and get fitter. Her first step was counselling to help address her relationship with food, and her body. It was a long process, but eventually she reached a place where she felt ready to reconnect with her body and lose the excess fat. The problem was knowing how to do it in a healthy way.
Lou’s condition makes exercise challenging, as she can’t get her heart rate too high or lift heavy weights. Overdoing it, even slightly can cause her to feel completely drained later on, as her heart can not deliver the oxygenated blood needed to help her muscles recover. Lou tried a few low impact classes like zumba gold, and felt her fitness improve a little, but she lacked the motivation and courage to push on with her weight loss.
The last chance
In early 2016, Lou was told her condition had worsened, surgery was now imminent, and they would have to do it even if she was not able to lose weight. In desperation she searched for help. She needed somewhere she could go that felt safe, someone willing to help despite her challenges, someone who would care and support her…she found us here at set U free.
Why we have awarded Lou a set U free scholarship
The first time I met Lou I was immediately inspired by her strength, courage, and determination. She has gone through so much in life, yet still beams a contagious smile of positivity. Instead of sitting around resenting the difficult challenges she has faced, she has channeled her energy in to helping others, volunteering at so many great causes including setting up local food banks.
I knew from the first time I met her, she had found us for a reason. Lou told me she couldn’t financially afford to have 1-2-1 session long term, but wanted something to kick start her journey, so she could learn how to exercise safely on her own despite the hole in her heart.
For the first 10 weeks of Lous training we did a mix of a nutritional review, weight loss coaching and personal training. I helped Lou create a home workout plan, and we even tackled her fear of swimming together. Lou gave every session 100% effort. Her condition does limit her ability to exercise, but it definitely doesn’t limit her passion, enthusiasm or motivation.
When Lou was coming to the end of her pre-booked sessions, I knew she financially couldn’t afford more, but I also knew she needed our continued support to keep her motivated. Offering her the first ever set U free scholarship made sense. Lou has given so much to the world, it was time someone gave her something back.
Make sure to subscribe to our blog, so you can get all the updates on Lou’s journey, up to and beyond her heart surgery.
We are wishing her all the luck and courage, and will be there every step
Jennie and all the set U free crew x